Navenby Datestones and Heritage Trail

The Navenby Datestones can be found in pavements throughout the village, markers of different moments in time through Navenby’s long history. They were inspired by the carved stone datestones that are seen on numerous buildings in the village, which typically show the date of a buildings’ construction.

The Navenby Datestones form part of the Navenby Heritage Trail, commissioned by Mrs Smith’s Cottage as part of an artist residency with Nicki Jarvis between 2019-2022. Made from high-fired ceramic, they denote a specific date or era, ranging from 100BC to 2020. Each Datestone is unique, using a lettering style typical of the period and with a background design inspired by aspects of relevant heritage.

The Navenby Heritage Trail follows a circular route around the village, starting from Mrs Smith’s Cottage. You can download the electronic version here or collect a physical copy from the Mrs Smith’s Cottage shop, as well as from other businesses and community spaces in Navenby.

1830     Mrs Smith’s Cottage

This artisan’s cottage is thought to date from around 1830. Mrs Hilda Smith lived here for most of her 102 years and the building is now a museum. The design for the datestone comes from a wallpaper fragment that was conserved and reproduced as a complete pattern by the University of Lincoln School of History & Heritage (check).

1300     Medieval Markets

Navenby was granted permission for markets and fairs in 1221 and 1374. The wide High Street would have accommodated these events and enabled livestock to be driven to market. The image on the datestone is inspired by the depiction of penned sheep in the Luttrell Psalter, an illuminated manuscript created c.1320-1340 for Geoffrey Luttrell, who lived between Grantham and Spalding. The original manuscript is held at the British Library.

1180     St Peter’s Church

Although the origins of Navenby date back to BC (before Christ), archaeological evidence suggests that the early village was situated closer to the Roman Ermine Street or High Dyke to the east. It is believed that the original church was built between 1172-1180; the Datestone design comes from the church’s ogee curved tracery windows which may date from 1320 when much of the church was rebuilt.

1650     The English Civil Wars

This Datestone is situated by Dial House, which is believed to have been a hostelry during the mid-1600s, the time of the Civil Wars. The image used on the Datestone is taken from a popular contemporary woodcut used in a pamphlet in 1643, showing an opposing Cavalier (Royalist) and Roundhead (Parlimentarian), and their dogs, vying for supremecy.

1990     Ermine Drive Estate

This small estate links Green Man Road with East Road and provided new homes in the final decades of the 20th century. The first phase of building began in the mid-1970s, and the estate was finally completed c.2010. The design used for the Datestone reflects Ordnance Survey mapping of this area of the village.

1929     Twenty Row

After the First World War, the housing shortage was acute. The design for this Datestone refers to the build date for Twenty Row, together with the iconic phrase uttered by Prime Minister David Lloyd George that returning soldiers would have ‘homes fit for heroes’. The Housing Act of 1919 (and subsequent Acts in the 1920s) provided housing subsidies to local councils which enabled these homes to be built.

AD 43   Ermine Street

Archaelogical finds have shown that there was susbtantial Roman activity at Navenby, which may have been a posting station along Ermine Street which runs from London to Lincoln and York. The Datestone image is based on a line drawing of a complete storage jar found by Allen Archaeology during their 2015 dig commissioned by Navenby Archaeology Group. Image © Allen Archaeology, with grateful thanks.

1949     Airey Houses

After the Second World War, adequate housing continued to be a vital concern. Sir Edwin Airey was commissioned to design prefabricated homes for the Ministry of Works. The Datestone reflects this iconic design, based on concrete shiplap style panels and a structure reinforced with metal recycled from military trucks.              

100 BC Early Navenby

Navenby pre-dates its Roman occupation by many centuries; archaeology reveals that people have lived here from the late Mesolithic period onwards (c.8000 BC). In 1994 a magnetometer survey as part of an archaeological dig revealed the evidence for a late iron age enclosure, c.100 BC and the Datestone uses the original drawing used in the archaeological report. Image © Pre-Construct Archaeological Services Ltd, with grateful thanks.

1086     Domesday Book

Navenby is mentioned in the Domesday survey carried out for William the Conqueror in 1086. The village appears with two different spellings: Navenbi and Navenebi, both commemorated on this datestone.

2012     The Venue

The Venue provides space and facilities for Navenby, adjacent Wellingore and other local communities to run many activities and events. Created with local fundraising, the Datestone design reflects the leaf-shaped display recognising funders inside the building.


Also look out for this ceramic panel at The Venue, created with 54 small artworks made in community workshops during 2021. From pre-school to retirement age, participants were invited to record a place, objects, people or animals which had special meaning for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1933     Lion Head Hydrants

These cast iron hydrants provided access to fresh water around the village; they are also a feature of other villages in the area. The Datestone commemorates the (approximate) year of installation with a repeating pattern based on their identifiable silhouette.

1890     A Busy High Street

Navenby High Street has long been a bustling attraction. Many businesses were established in the late Victorian and early 20th century period, some of which are still in operation today. The Datestone design celebrates the founding of Welbourne’s Bakery in 1890 whilst reflecting the many goods and trades upon which local people depended.

2020     Local Community

This project was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic, funded by Arts Council England with additional support from Mrs Smith’s Cottage. This Datestone recognises the Navenby community which pulled together to offer protection and support for each other during unprecedented times.

1844     Fire Service

A National Fire Service was created in the Second World War but until that time local towns and villages were responsible for their own fire response. In Navenby a Fire Brigade was formed in 1844. This Datestone is adjacent to where the fire station once stood, with a design that reflects their first horse-drawn fire engine.


Mrs Smith’s Cottage has more artworks created by Nicki during her residency, plus lots more information about this history of Navenby.

If you haven’t yet visited and would like to, just go to to book your place.